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“When we own portions of outstanding businesses with outstanding managements, our favorite holding period is forever.”

— Warren Buffett

The above quote from Warren Buffett is timeless, and brings into focus the choice about time horizon that any investor should think about before buying a stock they are considering. Behind every stock is an actual business; what will that business look like over a two-decade period?

Today, let’s look backwards in time to 2002, and take a look at what happened to investors who asked that very question about Hormel Foods Corp. (NYSE: HRL), by taking a look at the investment outcome over a two-decade holding period.

Start date: 02/04/2002


End date: 02/02/2022
Start price/share: $6.44
End price/share: $47.58
Starting shares: 1,552.80
Ending shares: 2,251.47
Dividends reinvested/share: $8.12
Total return: 971.25%
Average annual return: 12.58%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $107,065.08

As we can see, the two-decade investment result worked out quite well, with an annualized rate of return of 12.58%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $107,065.08 today (as of 02/02/2022). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 971.25% (something to think about: how might HRL shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Hormel Foods Corp. paid investors a total of $8.12/share in dividends over the 20 holding period, marking a second component of the total return beyond share price change alone. Much like watering a tree, reinvesting dividends can help an investment to grow over time — for the above calculations we assume dividend reinvestment (and for this exercise the closing price on ex-date is used for the reinvestment of a given dividend).

Based upon the most recent annualized dividend rate of 1.04/share, we calculate that HRL has a current yield of approximately 2.19%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 1.04 against the original $6.44/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 34.01%.

One more piece of investment wisdom to leave you with:
“I made my money by selling too soon.” — Bernard Baruch